The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

  • Review Date: February 28, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1977
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Beware! 70s horror film is ultra violent.
  • Review Date: February 28, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1977
  • Running Time: 89 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The film seems to make the point that beneath every person is the potential to be a monstrous savage.


As gruesome as it gets (although some gore-fanciers have complained that the blood looks pretty fake). People and a pet dog are mercilessly slaughtered, a severed head is kept as a keepsake, and one character's Achille's tendon is graphically severed. Another is bitten by a rattlesnake. Rape, and strong suggestions of incest.


The mother of the cannibal family is plainly stated to be a long-ago-abducted prostitute.


Some cursing.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The families drink alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an extremely violent movie with repellent murders and killings that cross the border from self-defense into sadistic revenge. Customary guardian figures (husbands, mothers, fathers) are the first to be slaughtered. Not even director Wes Craven's later, teen-filled "Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Scream" movies strike a nerve like this.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the desert wastelands, the quarrelsome Carter family, dominated by a retired police officer, are driving their RV to California when an axle breaks. They're stranded in the territory of Jupiter (James Whitmore), a hulking, scarred hermit who was abandoned in the desert as a boy and grew up to be a vicious wild-man, scavenging off the weapons and technology left at a disused military base nearby. He also kills and eats any travelers he can. Jupiter leads a degenerate tribe of his own, since he kidnapped a prostitute long ago for a mate. His brutish sons are also named for planets, but one girl, Ruby (Janus Blythe), is semi-civilized and yearns to escape from her nightmare environment. Jupiter and the brothers attack, rape, and massacre most of the Carters, but Ruby takes pity on the few survivors -- who include an infant that the bestial cannibals want as a morsel. Ruby helps the remaining Carters hide, regroup, and plan their revenge.

Is it any good?


Though many critics initially despised THE HILLS HAVE EYES, it has since been called one of the best horror movies of the 1970s. Scary-movie specialist Wes made this viscerally-violent feature on a low budget, and some horror connoisseurs call it his best. It's a sometimes ghastly -- and a little absurd at times -- shocker that really gets under one's skin. Ultimately the "normal" people strike back with a ferocious bloodlust they didn't know they had, and the question is how much a "civilized" person can be pushed before one becomes a savage. Are the Carters really all that much "better" than Jupiter and his spawn?

There are some borderline-silly moments involving the two Carter hero dogs, a pair of fearlessly loyal German shepherds named Beauty and Beast, who are the first to try to rescue their masters from the marauders, like the Rin-Tin-Tin adventure from hell. But even there the unintentional humor evaporates when one of the canines is killed.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the satirical commentary on families -- who is more dysfunctional here, the squabbling city clan from Cleveland, or the cave-dwellers who prey on them? They can also discuss how much a "civilized" person can be pushed before all aspects of noble behavior drops away and one becomes a savage. They may want to talk about the continued popularity of horror movies -- why are they so appealing to certain audiences, especially teens?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 22, 1977
DVD release date:September 23, 2003
Cast:Dee Wallace, Janus Blythe, Michael Berryman
Director:Wes Craven
Studio:Anchor Bay Entertainment
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:graphic violence

This review of The Hills Have Eyes (1977) was written by

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  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Parent Written byPlague December 7, 2009

The Hills Have Eyes

Great movie. IMO, better than the remake. These are one of those originals that are pretty hard to beat.
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 8 years old July 2, 2011


movies not for anyone under 18
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 March 25, 2012

Very violent,not that fr kids.

I've to admit I saw this when I was very young probably 5 or 6 but at that time I gotta say I don't really remember much I've seen the remakes as well and theyre much bloodier than this but don't underestimate this too.I wouldn't say it's over realistic but still it's violence.Most likely will give younger children nightmares and older children will be fine,as long as they're very mature and don't get violent but if they do it's best to save it until they are in their later teenage years,in their 16s and 17s just to be safe.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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